The Metropolitan with the Irish Council of Churches
Solidarity with the Suffering Christian Community in Syria
“The Christians of Syria need their fellow Christians throughout the world to pray for them, to listen to them and to feel their pain.”
(Metropolitan Silouan, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland, Antiochian Orthodox Church)
Today, Friday 22nd July 2016, representatives of the Irish Council of Churches (ICC) and the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference were delighted to welcome His Eminence Metropolitan Silouan of the Archdiocese of the British Isles and Ireland of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, on the occasion of his first pastoral visit to the Antiochian Orthodox community in Belfast.
In his opening address Metropolitan Silouan emphasised the importance of cooperation and dialogue between Christians of different traditions, illustrated by the positive experiences of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Britain and Ireland.
Born in Syria and recently returned from a visit to the exiled Syrian community in Lebanon, the Archbishop gave a moving account of the challenges facing the Syrian church. He said:
“The Christians of Syria are frightened for their future, and particularly for their children’s future. Families are facing very difficult choices: whether they leave or stay, their lives may be at risk, and they face a real struggle to earn a living. The international community needs to prioritise conflict resolution to address the root causes of this suffering and protect the future of this community.”
“Solidarity and cooperation between Christian churches is vital because we have a common mission to defend the dignity of the human person and live out the Christian faith of our communities.”
“At this time, the Christians of Syria need their fellow Christians to pray for them, to listen to them and feel their pain.”
Thanking Metropolitan Silouan on behalf of the representatives of the Irish Churches, Bishop John McDowell, Church of Ireland Bishop of Clogher and President of the Irish Council of Churches, said:
“It was a great privilege for us to hear from Metropolitan Silouan today about the experiences of the Syrian Orthodox community, both in Ireland, where this community is growing, and in Syria, where they are experiencing unimaginable suffering. We are very grateful to the Archbishop for coming to speak to us and we assure him of our prayers and solidarity with the Christian communities of Syria and the Middle East.”